Saudia’s upcoming A321neo and A321XLR fleet will feature Inmarsat‘s GX Aviation Ka-band in-flight connectivity solution. The deal covers 35 aircraft slated to join the fleet in the coming years and represents a series of firsts in the industry.
Working with Inmarsat and GDC, this is pioneering for us and the customers flying with us. You’ll see speeds and content that has not been previously available in the region.– Captain Ibrahim Koshy, Saudia CEO
Saudia currently holds orders for 20 Airbus A321neo and 15 Airbus A321XLR. The airline’s first installation of GX Aviation is expected in late 2022.
New technology flying
The deal represents the first GX Aviation customer in Saudi Arabia. It also represents the first announced commercial airline customer of the GDC Falcon 300 Ka-band terminal and Thinkom Ka2517 combination connecting to the GX network.
As GDC Technics‘ SVP Advanced Technologies Tracy Trent explains, “Saudia’s vision for bringing an at home experience on to the airplane is a perfect match for what we’re doing with the Falcon 300. It capitalizes on our partnership with Inmarsat that has been developing over the past 18 months and which is now flying.”
The phrasing the companies used makes clear other, as-yet-unnamed airlines are also committed to the hardware offering.
A new user experience
The deal also represents the first airline customer of Inmarsat’s recently announced OneFi portal. The company believes the revised portal architecture can enhance ancillary revenue opportunities as well as passenger satisfaction on board.
Saudia CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshy is particularly keen on the range of content the new platform offers, “We’re looking at the potential for changing what is available to passengers on board, whether it is their Saudia bookings or anything else they need to be connected to.”
Koshy continues, “What we’re doing here today is a vote of confidence in what we believe is the way forward. The team would not have brought us here if we weren’t sure that this is the future for what we’re trying to do with the customer experience.”
Inmarsat’s Neale Faulkner is similarly keen on the value OneFi can bring on this front. This includes services directly delivered by Inmarsat and those developed by third-party partners. “We’re going to create an environment which matches the demographic of passengers on a particular airline and what they want to see, whether that be entertainment, duty free shopping, destination management, or other services integrated from partners.”
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More news from the 2021 Dubai Air Show
- Iraqi Airways chooses Panasonic Avionics for IFE/C future
- Saudia selects Inmarsat GX for A321neo connectivity
- Airbus snags another massive A321neo/A321XLR deal from Indigo Partners
- Panasonic Avionics picked for Saudia IFE play
- Airbus scores a LiFi win for a trio of corporate jets
- Scratch another IFC player from the commercial market
- Emirates (re)commits big to Premium Economy
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